Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Yellow Stoneflies
3. Slate Drakes
4. Needle Stoneflies
5. Little Yellow Quills
11. Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
Fishing Conditions and Strategies to Use Right Now In the Smokies
The fishing conditions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are as good as
they get right now and my guess is they will continue that way for at least a few
days. Although I'm not big on the conditions having to be just right to catch trout, it
is always pleasing to tell everyone when they are if for no other reason than to
eliminate the excuses some anglers will come up with. Well, I guess that's dreaming.
I don't think that is possible. I will assure you there will be all types of excuses and
some I've probably never heard of.
I ran into a school of otters or there was someone scuba diving in my brown trout
hole. I fell in and almost froze to death. Well, that's not a good one, it may actually
be true. I had a big brown trout hooked until this dang know it all came up and
started telling me how to land it. Someone had completely loosened my drag on my
fly reel. There are some new ones for those of you that may need one.
Seriously, you can fail to have a good day when conditions are perfect. Don't let
anyone tell you that the trout you catch are all a product of the water and weather
conditions. Don't let anyone tell you everything is to do with the water temperature.
It is only an indirect affect. Trout feed everyday of the year. You can catch several
in water than is in the high forties. I fished Colorado one entire month and the water
never went as high as 50 degrees all month. Angie and I caught over a seven
hundred trout fishing one at a time. It snowed a foot deep one night and snow was
on the ground for three straight days. We fished eleven different trout streams that
month. The trout in the streams of Colorado are not any different in regards to
feeding or water temperatures than in the Smokies. I caught over fifty rainbow and
brown trout in the Great Smoky Mountains two years ago when the water
temperature was 47 degrees or less all day. Most of them came within a four hour
period. I have done well many times before in cold water. Yes, it will get tough when
it drops below 45 and almost impossible when it is below 39. Remember, ice
fishermen catch trout and other species from frozen over lakes in water that is
always 39 degrees using bait but also jigs which are in essence flies. It's a mater of
getting the fly in front of the trout. One little hint is you won't do it fishing fast water.
I have also seen many, many times when the water temps were perfect, in the mid
fifties to sixty for trout in the Smokies when not just a few but most anglers caught
only a few trout. Everything else was in good shape such as water levels. It
happens all the time. It happens all the time in May and June.
Don't know why I went off cocked on water temperature but some anglers think it's
the controlling factor when it isn't. In fact, I guess I only want to warn those of you
that may not know that conditions can be perfect and you still may fail to
catch trout in the sizes and quantities like you think you should. There are
many things that come into play other than the condition of the stream and water.
Note on Strategies for Right Now in the Smokies:
1. The brown trout are spawning. Some are on their redds, some are finished and
some have not started. These trout will take nymphs and streamers but out of
aggression or protecting their redds rather than feeding. You may blindly hook one
but by far the best method is to fish to trout you have stalked. I did an entire series
on how to do this a few days ago. This was the first article. If you are interested in
reading them (there are 4 more) just click "back" to take you to the articles menu,
and click the next article dated 9/05/10 and continue to do that until you are
finished reading them. Please don't fish for them on their redds. Each year I find
what are considered reputable and good anglers doing just that. It sucks.
2. The brook trout are spawning and you can catch a bunch of them. If you target
an individual brook trout on its redd, you won't be very successful. You should be
able to catch more using normal fishing methods because they all are not on their
redds in the same stage of spawning at any one time. Those spawning are not that
easy to catch.
3. Rainbows and the smaller brown trout are feeding as they normally do and as
stated, conditions are excellent.
Here's the approach and strategy I would suggest you use for them.
I would fish the lower to middle elevation streams. I would start out fishing in the
morning, or afternoon if I ran later in the day, with a Blue-winged Olive nymph
imitation, hook size 18. Fish it in the slow water sections I described a couple of
If I saw any Slate Drake nymph skins on the bank or rocks, I would change to a
Slate Drake nymph.
I would fish this same nymph until I saw something hatching. It most likely would be a
Blue-winged Olive but it could be a stray caddis of an odd species (which wouldn't
cause me to change flies), or Little Yellow Stonefly or Needlefly (that looks like a
caddisfly) late in the day. Both the stonefles would hatch only late in the day. The
egg layers would not appear until mid afternoon. Fish the BWO nymph until mid
afternoon. If you fish it the right way, in the right type of water, you will catch plenty
of trout. Period.
During the day, if I saw a hatching Little Yellow Stonefly *Yellow Sally", not a egg
layer, swap to a Little Yellow Stonefly nymph, hook size 16. They are not yellow.
They are brown, so don't get confused with that. If I saw a Needlefly hatching (not
an egg layer touching the water) swap to a Needlefly nymph, hook size 18.
If I saw any BWOs hatching, I would first change to an emerger pattern. If they
started hitting the surface regularly, I would change to a dun.
Late afternoon, around 3:00, I would change to either a Little Yellow Stonefly nymph
or Needlefly nymph. I would fish it until within about 45 minutes until legal fishing
time was up. The last 45 minutes I would fish a Great Brown Autumn Sedge Pupa fly
until I had to stop fishing.
During that time in the afternoon, I would look for any of 4 things that may occur. If I
saw Little Yellow Stoneflies or Needleflies laying eggs, I would swap to an adult
pattern of it. If I saw any BWO spinners dancing, I would later, swap to a spent
spinner pattern, size 18. If I saw a Great Autumn Brown Sedge laying eggs, I would
swap to an adult pattern of it. If none of the above happened, I would fish the
nymphs until the last 45 and swap to the GABS pupa.
Remember, I am not fishing for spawning browns or brook trout. I wouldn't change
strategies, rather do what I set out to do. One more thing, If I had a guy tell me he
caught 50 trout the day before using and doing such and such, it wouldn't change
my plans the slightest bit. If a fly shop told me anything different, I would politely
ignore them. Until you have confidence and ignore what others did (they may not
could do it again themselves, things change every hour or so) you will just be
jumping around and hoping for one thing....Luck. We all need some, but never rely
on it for success.